How community transforms into culture: Miami Fashion Week 2017

danie gomez ortigoza journey of a braid miami fashion week 2017
As I experienced the closing show for Miami Fashion Week 2017, with the beautiful designs of Ángel Sánchez,  I realized how much Miami has changed.

The reality is, currently all eyes are in this city:

The Design District keeps growing, Brickell City Centre opened its doors, Swim Week is becoming the most relevant Swim Event in the continent, the Frost Museum has redefined the expectations of a Science Museum, the PAMM is curating fantastic exhibitions, the Bass Museum will open soon, and the art community is thriving year round beyond Art Basel.

How can this be?

It all goes back to one simple concept:

The power of community.

I first explored what this meant in a conversation with Anastasia Koutsioukis, co-owner of Mandolin Aegean Bistro, a destination on its own, and a personal favorite.

‘When we first arrived to Miami, we wanted to create a place that gave people a sense of belonging,’ she said as she cooked the most extraordinary meal for the two of us in her kitchen. Her words have been in my mind ever since.

Miami Fashion Week Danie Gomez Ortigoza Anastasia Mandolin
With Anastasia Koutsioukis during Miami Fashion Week 2017

Belonging.

Isn’t that what we are all searching for, anyway? Feeling part of a community is the reason why we build all those technological bridges and institutions, spend so much time in social media, and even create reasons to be together: brunch, egg hunts, Christmas, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, galas, birthday parties…

You name it.

Life is lonely. No one can experience it like you do, even if they are physically by your side. We were born alone and will die alone regardless. But it’s so wonderful to forget this sharp reality for a bit and share our human condition with others using words and images to try and open a window into who we are.

Even after living in 5 different countries, I never felt I belonged anywhere before I settled in Miami and started building my community. The energy that this simple feeling has given me is the driving force behind everything I do.

And my purpose.

One of my biggest inspirations has been Tara Solomon, a Miami icon who  was the first woman to be honored with the ‘Excellence in Tourism Award’ by the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce this week. Tara has played such an important role in the process of positioning this city. She is a journalist turned  into a PR power-house, Tara Ink,  who understands the concept of community more than anyone else, and who opened the doors to me when I was a new in the city, and has kept them open as my career path has evolved.

We all need those amazingly special people as we build ourselves professionally, and we all need to do that same thing for others as well on a daily basis.

Soledad Lowe, Tara Solomon, me, Andy Faerman, Ana Alfonzo, Julian Chang

 

As we all stood up, celebrating the beautiful designs of Ángel Sánchez, as Miami Fashion Week came to an end, I remembered how different the atmosphere was one year ago, where there was a strange mix of people united by the common hope of getting a ‘selfie’ with Antonio Banderas.

While  still is a work in progress, Miami Fashion Week 2017 consisted of a very talented group of designers, celebrities, fashionistas, buyers and press coming together as ‘Miamian’, regardless of nationality or background, with a tremendous will and focus to support this institution to grow and show to the world what this city is made of, transforming our community into culture.

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